Image taken from the May, 1946 issue of “Road Builder’s News” published by the American Road Builders’ Association.

By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

President Harry S. Truman received an honorary lifetime membership from the American Road Builders’ Association, forerunner of today’s ARTBA, 70 years ago this month.

Truman joined the association in 1936 as a member of the Jackson County, Missouri, group. He was County Judge (an administrative rather than judicial position) there in the late 1920s and early 1930s. According to the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum:

“One of Truman’s major accomplishments as County Judge was the improvement of Jackson County roads. He appointed a board to draw up a plan and survey the county’s roads, and then sought approval for two separate bond issues to fund the project. Voters approved both bonds. By the time he left office, Jackson County had more than 200 miles of new concrete roads. Easy access to good roads helped farmers throughout the county get their produce and livestock to market.”

ARBA Chairman James J. Skelly, with other association officials and Rep. J. W. Robinson, (D-Utah), chairman of the House Roads Committee, presented the president with the lifetime membership on May 7, 1946.

“A gold membership card in a pigskin case and an engrossed parchment bound in blue leather were presented to him in appreciation of his activity and interest in local and national highways,” the “Road Builder’s News,” reported at the time.

Truman died in 1972. A small plaque in the lobby of the ARTBA Building recalls the day that the man from Missouri received the honor.